Extreme heat, dry conditions spark fire concerns this week

Weather

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As the Las Vegas valley experiences a massive heat wave this week, officials are warning of potential fire dangers.

The extreme heat, paired with an exceptionally dry fire season, is causing concern about everything from vehicle fires to brush fires in the mountains.

“Just throwing a match outside, a cigarette butt, it’s going to start a fire,” said Tim Szymanski, public information officer for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.

Sandy Valley Fire

Szymanski says he is particularly concerned about vehicle fires because of overheated wires.

“When it is as hot outside as it is, that’s generating the heat. There’s nowhere for that heat to go,” he explained. “Those wires could start melting. It might start a fire while you’re inside the house.”

If you notice an issue with your car, do not park it inside your garage. Szymanski says paint cans, propane tanks and pool chemicals are also combustible in these hot conditions.

“We have them catch fire behind houses because they’re in direct sunlight,” he shared.

There is also concern about man-made fires up in the mountains due to a drier than normal fire season.

“These are levels that, even in dry years, we have not seen in several decades,” said Basial Newmerzhycky, a meteorologist and predictive services program manager for the Great Basin Coordination Center.

Officials say the recent Sandy Valley Fire near Mount Potosi was caused by target shooting. Newmerzhychy says this time of year, a spark normally takes 30 to 60 seconds to start a fire. But with the dry conditions and our near record heat this week, it is much faster.

“If that spark lands in that same fuel that is as dry as it is right now with those high temperatures, that can start in two or three seconds,” he said.

Officials are urging extra caution. They add that one simple step can be taken to prevent fires — and protect yourself:

“Stay indoors between the hottest hours of the day, which is about 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.,” Szymanski urged.

Another fire concern is from lightning. Newmerzhycky says weather officials are keeping their eye on potential storm systems moving toward the Las Vegas valley later this week.

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